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The prevalence of typical dream themes challenges the specificity of the threat simulation theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2001

Anne Germain
Affiliation:
Sleep Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H4J 1C5, Canada a-germain@crhsc.umontreal.ca
Tore A. Nielsen
Affiliation:
Sleep Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H4J 1C5, Canada
Antonio Zadra
Affiliation:
Sleep Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H4J 1C5, Canada a-germain@crhsc.umontreal.ca
Jacques Montplaisir
Affiliation:
Sleep Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H4J 1C5, Canada

Abstract

The evolutionary theory of threat simulation during dreaming indicates that themes appropriate to ancestral survival concerns (threats) should be disproportionately represented in dreams. Our studies of typical dream themes in students and sleep-disordered patients indicate that threatening dreams involving chase and pursuit are indeed among the three most prevalent themes, thus supporting Revonsuo's theory. However, many of the most prevalent themes are of positive, not negative, events (e.g., sex, flying) and of current, not ancestral, threat scenarios (e.g., schoolwork). Moreover, many clearly ancestral themes (e.g., snakes, earthquakes) are not prevalent at all in dreams. Thus, these findings challenge the specificity of the threat simulation theory.

[Revonsuo]

Type
Brief Report
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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